THE SONGS OF COMPOSER MICHAEL (MICKEY) LEONARD WITH AN ALL STAR ROSTER OF JAZZ AND CABARET PERFORMERS AT THE METROPOLITAN ROOM
By Linda Amiel Burns
The Award winning cabaret/jazz songstress Karen Oberlin acted as producer and co-host for this tribute show of the songs of Michael (Mickey) Leonard.
Karen’s husband, David Hajdu, music critic and writer at The New Republic and a Professor journalism at Columbia University, opened the show with comments about this prolific composer who is “uncompromising” and a perfectionist in his work. As a matter of fact, he read a congratulatory letter from Nancy Sinatra who wrote, “make sure the chords are exactly correct and be sure to do it Mickey’s way.” He said that there was also another title for the show called “Variations in search of a theme” which he felt was a poor title as the theme is really about “beauty” and “truth.” Mickey, who is now 83 years old, has written with such major lyricists as Carolyn Leigh, Marshall Barer, Annie Lebeaux as well as Herb Martin (The Yearling).
Ms. Oberlin opened the show with “Don’t Let a Good Thing Get Away” followed by Mark Murphy improving an odd jazz version of one of Mickey’s best songs “I’m All Smiles.” There were artists, too numerous to mention, contributing their talents including Ellen Bullinger with “Where Do The Lonely Go?,” Barbara Brussell in from L.A, performing “The Kind of Man a Woman Needs,” Maude Hixson singing “Childhood’s End ” and Joyce Breach’s moving version of “It Was Not Exactly Paris” (lyrics by Russell George). KT Sullivan sang a lovely version of the beautiful song from The Yearling “ Why Did I Choose You?” and then added a humorous ending. Mark Nadler brought down the house with “Let Me Off This Boat” (lyrics: Annie Lebeaux) listing the complaints of someone on a disastrous cruise.
The dream band consisted of remarkable musicians: Jon Weber on piano and many of the arrangements, Warren Vache on Coronet, Tom Hubbard on bass and Gene Bertoncini on guitar.
Mickey Leonard came to the piano to close the evening with a piece he wrote of an imagined meeting in Leipzig, Germany around 1750 between Bach and the pianist Bill Evans playing the music was in both their unique styles. Then he sang these lyrics “Make your music while you can…..music is the gift of God.” The evening proved that Mickey Leonard is truly a gift to the world of music.
There is another evening scheduled on February 10 at 9:30PM at The Metropolitan Room with new songs and different performers. For reservations and more information: phone: 212 206-0440 or www.metropolitanroom.com